Review: $5 A Day DVD

STUDIO: Image | DIRECTOR: Nigel Cole | CAST: Christopher Walken, Alessandro Nivola, Sharon Stone, Amanda Peet, Peter Coyote, Dean Cain
RELEASE DATE: 8/24/10 | PRICE: DVD $27.98, Blu-ray $29.98
BONUSES: director and cast interviews
SPECS: PG-13 | 98 min. | Comedy | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

$5 A Day is a nice little movie from 2008 that follows an acceptable indie credo in that it a) focuses on a dysfunctional family, b) features a bunch of stars who’ve seen bigger movies (and bigger paydays!) in their careers, c) employs quirky humor, and d) takes the act on the road. (Maybe it’s us, but aren’t there a zillion indie road films out there?)

Christopher Walken (Kill the Irishman) stars as an eccentric named Nat who’s content to live the life of a quick conman, whether he hustling for a birthday meal at IHOP, crashing a convention for complimentary drinks or owning a free car emblazoned with a promotional “Sweet’n’Low” logo. His son Flynn (Alessandro Nivola, Howl) doesn’t think that he’s at all like his dad, which is part of the reason they’ve been estranged for years.

Things change when Nat announces he has a terminal illness and he cons Flynn into accompanying him on a cross-country road trip to an experimental medical facility in New Mexico. Though they don’t have much money, the father-and-son figure that, with a little bit of imagination, they can make it on five bucks a day — no matter how far-fetched their ideas may be. (Spending their nights as squatters in empty homes they spot in the local real estate listings is only one of their schemes.) Needless to say, some much-overdue bonding also begins along the way…

Director Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls, Saving Grace) and the lively cast (led by a fine Walken) also includes Sharon Stone (Casino), Amanda Peet (Gulliver’s Travels) and Peter Coyote (TV’s Law & Order: Los Angeles) add to the pedigree of a film that didn’t receive much exposure outside of a couple of festivals.

And that’s surprising as $5 A Day is certainly a pleasant-enough independent film excursion with a bunch of enjoyable performances and laughable scenarios — at least as many as other independent road flicks that have been picked up for wide release. But with solid word-of-mouth, the movie stands to make a lot more noise on disc.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.